News & Politics

How Michelle Obama Has Shaped Nutrition Politics

Photograph by meltechfoto/

March 2009

Michelle Obama plants the White House kitchen garden, since expanded to include a compost pile and apiary. Five years later, the National Gardening Association reports a 17-percent increase in home and community gardens.

Photograph courtesy of Camilla Minarelli.

February 2010

The First Lady launches “Let’s Move!,” a campaign to tackle growing rates of childhood obesity. It enlists celebrities including Beyoncé, who adapts her song “Get Me Bodied” for a video showcasing an exercise-dance routine.

Photograph courtesy of Wat-aah!

December 2010

President Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, raising nutrition standards in the National School Lunch Program. The School Nutrition Association and some Republican lawmakers oppose the standards. The act is up for reauthorization in 2015.

Photograph courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

September 2013

Mrs. Obama convenes a summit on marketing food to children, which calls on the industry to cut ads for unhealthy foods. In October, Sesame Street says it will allow free use of its characters in ads promoting fruits and vegetables.

Photograph courtesy of The White House.

November 2013

The Food and Drug Administration proposes revoking the “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, status of partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of artery-clogging trans fats. Food manufacturers are still fighting the rule, saying few alternatives exist.

February 2014

The FDA proposes revamping its well-known Nutrition Facts label after the White House pushes the agency to finish a decade-long effort. The food industry continues to resist the changes, and a final rule has not been issued.

Photograph courtesy of The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

November 2014

Under rules mandated by Obamacare, the FDA re-quires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on menus. Grocery and major pizza chains are fighting back with the help of Congress.

This article appears in our June 2015 issue of Washingtonian.